Category Archives: Motherhood

Paths through mist

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I had a beautiful walk to work today. A heavy mist lay on the ground as I made my way through Deer Park. There is something magical about mist and the way it envelopes everything in its midst. The trees seemed like apparitions in the distance. Beings came through the thick curtain, as if emerging from an otherworldly realm.

I came to a fork in the path and it made me reflect on where I am in life and the paths I have chosen to take. For what purpose and to what end did I chose a specific path? The path I am on now seems particularly tough. I question myself is it the right one, not only for me but also for my family.

If I had not a care in the world, I would not fret about what path to choose but I want to make sure that the path I take leads to a better life for me, my husband and my children. Lewis Carroll makes it seem so easy in Alice in Wonderland. Alice comes to a fork in the road. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then it doesn’t matter.” But every action causes consequences, and one must weigh all options and outcomes.

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Sometimes when Peter and I are up past midnight, while the children have been in bed for hours, and we try to complete assignments or write a chapter, we chuckle to ourselves. We may have chosen the right path but it sure wasn’t the easiest one. As the Zen proverb goes “The obstacle is the path”.

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Art attack!

Sometimes it feels as though there is a permanent art bonanza taking place in our home. The shelves are cluttered with paints, crayons, indoor chalk, outdoor chalk, paper, crêpe paper, colouring books, glue, markers, stickers etc. You get the picture! Paintings and drawings are proudly displayed on the dining room walls. Patio stones are coloured in vibrant colours with chalk. Our weekend mornings usually consists of fresh pots of coffee and doodling.

The kids have a serious addiction to all things involving arts and crafts. They didn’t get it from the side of the road either. Art is in the family. Their grandmothers are artists. I grew up surrounded by canvases, oils, gouache paints, charcoals, pencils, erasers, paper. All these things bear memories for me – the smell of freshly pared pencil shavings, the shape and feel of my mother’s special erasure, the rubbery sensation of dried oil paints on pallets, piled high on wobbly tables, the somewhat pleasant smell of turpentine. I loved going into my mother’s studio and snooping through the old photographs, catalogues and notebooks. Sometimes I left feeling overwhelmed as I did not always understand the personal topics of her work at my young age. Most of the time I left feeling like  I had gotten to know more about her. When I was a teenager, my mother started an art school, which became very successful. There was a flow of people through the house day and night. Her studio was expanded and a dark room was built. I loved the quiet intimate darkness in there and loved watching my mother dipping and dunking negatives. I can still remember the smells of the chemicals. There was also this massive old school printing press. That was a hit with everyone. Classes were held for children and I thought I had the coolest mum. Sometimes I even sat as a model for her drawing classes. I think I grew to love classical music from this because it was always played in the background.

My mother is building a new studio at her home in the countryside and in a way I am jealous that my girls will be able to explore this. Hopefully they will have as many memories of their grandmother, as I do of my mother. Although my children do not get to visit my mother’s studio as often as I did as a child, I think it is important to help them develop an appreciation and love for art. Kids love getting messy and exploring with colours and textures. It’s a great way to learn. Most of all, I love watching them develop new techniques.

Olwyn is now learning how to draw circles. She holds the pencil for dear life and scribbles, scribbles, scribbles. Markers are a no go with her as she has a tendency to suck the ink out of them! She points at all the paintings on the wall saying “Seren do that” or “Olwyn do that”. Other times she likes to make her own impromptu teething ring!

Seren, who is three and a half,  loves drawing happy faces, dogs, lions and balloons. She sits happily at the table until every inch of paper is coloured in. It’s great to see her concentration and how seriously she takes it.

Give them some stickers, glue and child friendly scissors and there is beautiful silence for ten minutes. Other times we all sit around, chat and paint faces, which is always a good giggle.

Painting is always a hit. I like to give them different utensils to use on the paint for texture but inevitably the fingers usually win out. This day usually leads to a good soaking in the bathtub.

We often visit the National Art Gallery with the children. They are still a bit too young to parade them through the entire gallery, but there is an excellent space for children to draw pictures. Here we all sit happily for an hour, the girls scribbling to their hearts’ content. Daddy usually has a cat nap because it is so warm from the sun light flooding in. In another year Seren will be able to take part in the art classes that are held here. It teaches young children how to read the paintings in the gallery.

I am an academic at heart, not having tapped into the artist in me when younger, and our home is crammed with books and words. My children love books but I want to pass on to them some of my experiences I had with art as a child. Although I don’t have a studio, I can try to keep painting and drawing alive, and nurture in them a love for all things creative.

Do you encourage your children to be creative? Is it important for you to have art in your children’s lives?

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The sloth and the snail.

Today started off at 5.20 am with Olwyn crying to get up due to those troublesome canines bothering her. They have bothered her now for near on three months and they are still a no-show! Poor thing. Olwyn goes around with her fingers permanently stuck in her mouth and leaves puddles of saliva in her trail. Anyway, I settled Olwyn and put her back to bed at 6am. I hopped back into bed and fell  into my slumber only to be woken by the bright-eyed Seren sitting beside me at 6.20 am, proudly announcing “I had a really nice dream! It was about lions!”.

Needless to say,  my good intentions in writing my research paper today were not fulfilled. There was a major dose of fatigue today! It is seven weeks until I give my first “professional” paper. The attendance to the week-long conference is in excess of 500 people. Gulp! No pressure. However, I was no closer to a finished product today than I was a week ago. The thoughts of sitting down and poring over books seemed torturous. I had to give a tutorial in the early afternoon though so I had no choice but to go into the office.

To add to that, it was actually a beautiful sunny day and all I wanted to do was stay home with the family and enjoy the garden. I called it quits after the tutorial and headed home. Alas, the sun was now hiding (Murphy’s Law) but we still got to enjoy the garden. Seren and Olwyn found a little snail and were intrigued at this little creature, who carried his house on his back. We sat on the bench in the reappearing sun for about ten minutes marvelling over the snail, touching his tentacles, watching him crawl. It was the moment of the day! I am so happy to have witnessed this.

Meet Sammy the Snail

Sammy snail is never worried

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the first strawberries picked by little hands.

For the past few months, the girls have been casting their eyes with eager anticipation at the strawberries growing in the garden. It was great to see their excitement growing with the changing colours of the fruit. It was Seren and Olwyn’s job to scare away any magpies who swooped down to feast on the strawberries. So every once in a while you would hear fierce knocking at the window ” Shoo magpie, those are our stwawbewwies!” The strawberries were lovingly watered and minded. I got so much enjoyment watching my children learn about the things we have growing in the garden.

Here are photographs of the momentous occasion!

Daddy lends a helping hand.

A joyous moment!

Following in her big sister's footsteps.

Seren and Olwyn on their favourite seat (beside the strawberries naturally).

Sumptuous strawberry.

Look Mami, I'm going to make it disappear :)

The poet William Allen Butler sums the strawberry up the best when he wrote “Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did.”

 

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Letting go…

When I was pregnant I did not realise that I would go through a process of missing my bump once the baby was born. Well, I did. Even though I had a beautiful child in my arms, I missed the presence of my bump. Little did I realise that this was the beginning of many steps throughout life, separating from my precious baby. A continuous weaning of sorts until she reaches womanhood.

Looking into the future

Tonight is the first night that my child is spending away from our home. Seren is staying with her grannies’ (yes, that is plural and that story has enough material for ten blogs!) and her excitement at her impending first sleep over was a joy to experience. She is three years and three months now. Seren had her bag packed yesterday, toothbrush and toothpaste and all, including ten random books. Some motherly intervention led to a more sensible bag being packed. 

Seren’s grannies were as just excited and off I sent them in the car like giddy school kids. Seren is going to have so much fun and freedom in their house. What child wouldn’t like to stay in an artist’s country retreat, surrounded by an oak wood, wild stream, acres of meadows, and an enchanted castle next door.

Still, the house is so quiet now without her smiley face. It makes me think of what other moments in her life I will have to let go… the first day she goes to school; the first night she stays at a friend’s house; when she goes on school trips and the day she finally says she is moving out and starting her own life.

The act of letting go for me as a parent is not just associated with physical acts of separation, but also with allowing the development of oneself as a person. I, as a mother, am going to have to cope and deal with Seren growing up and forming her own ideals and opinions. I know that coming from a different generation I will probably not always agree with what these opinions will be but that I will have to accept and respect them.

Anyway, Seren’s little sister Olwyn misses her big sister. Every now and then we hear “where’s Sewen?”. Although Seren and Olwyn share the usual quibble found between siblings of that age, normally concerning who gets to play with Anna the doll, they are like peas in a pod. Olwyn misses Seren but at the same time she is relishing the undivided attention of her mother and father. I can only hope that we teach our daughters to always love and appreciate each other and help build a strong foundation in their relationship.

Say cheese! Our attempt of taking a photograph of two toddlers while smiling.

What steps of separation have you gone through with your children growing up? How have you coped as a parent in the act of letting go?

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Who needs television?

Really?! I mean, children are so easily amused. Take my children for instance. Plonk them onfront of the washing machine and they pretend that they are in the cinema.

What kid doesn’t love getting messy with a paint brush, paper and bright colours. This is always a winner until the kid tries finger painting. Then it is time for some disaster management!

A favourite past-time is by far flicking through the many, many books they have on their own dedicated book shelves. You know when it has gone all quiet that they are sitting happily sifting through and reading their books. Either this or they are up to no good…

When it is not raining outside, no child wants to be stuck indoors. So on with the wellies and off out with them to explore, dig for worms, smell new blossoms and generally act the maggot.

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My trusty steed

I got a new bicycle for my birthday last October. My husband bought it for me after a three year sojourn from cycling. Just before the birth of Seren, I fell and broke my knee. That put an end to my cycling days for a while. Back then, I had a lovely yellow mountain bike. When I was out of action, my bike was parked outside all alone. Bit by bit, pieces would get thieved. One day the saddle would get nicked, then the wheels etc. until one day there was only a sad skeleton attached to the pole! Oh, they are ruthless.

I yearned to be able to cycle again. But alas no bike was had and my knee and leg was weak for more than a year. Then I became pregnant again with Olwyn and well I really didn’t feel like taking cycling up again. So last October Peter was missing one day. I think we were actually going out that night and he was expected home. But he was late! I was getting mad and got annoyed when he got home – poor him. It turns out he was at the bike shop ordering my bike. Oh, I felt bad. We all went to pick it up the next day. Seren was so excited that there was a seat for her.

Well, I was only on my bike for a few weeks when the bad weather hit us. I got a puncture. Turns out someone must have been jealous of my bike in college as it was a staple that caused the puncture! With that, there was snow, Christmas and more snow to compete with. I only managed to get my tire mended in January. I haven’t looked back since…

I love the freedom of cycling. I sleep much better as a result of the exercise and it is a great way to relax and unwind after a long day of staring at words. I try to bring Seren out at the weekends and she gets a kick out the bell and going over the bumps.

I have to admit though, drivers really are not aware of their surroundings and it is shocking. And YES, I do follow the rules of the road!

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